Fair trial

The Court did not acquit a member of the SS who was accused of being involved in 300,000 murders!

Gröning v. Germany 2.11.2020 (app. no. 71591/17)
The case concerned a complaint by a former member of the SS about the length of the criminal
proceedings against him for assisting in murder in the Auschwitz extermination camp.
The applicant was questioned in 1978 while being investigated by the Frankfurt public prosecutor’s
office for crimes committed when serving in the Auschwitz extermination camp. The investigation
was discontinued in 1985. The applicant was questioned again in 2014 after the the Hannover public
prosecutor’s office initiated an investigation and he was convicted in 2015. He argued that the
proceedings had been running since 1978 because the authorities had failed to notify him of the
discontinuation decision in 1985, making the proceedings excessively lengthy.

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Insufficient judicial control regarding a measure of dismissal of an official in a public body imposed after the failure of a military coup in Turkey. Violation of the ECHR

Pişkin v, Turkey 15.12.2020 (app. no. 33399/18)
The case concerned Mr Pişkin’s dismissal on the grounds that he had links with a terrorist
organisation, in the wake of the declaration of a state of emergency in Turkey following the failed
military coup of 15 July 2016, as well as the subsequent judicial review of that measure.
Mr Pişkin complained that neither the procedure leading to his dismissal nor the subsequent judicial
proceedings had complied with the guarantees of a fair trial. He also complained that he had been
branded a “terrorist” and “traitor”.

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The conviction based on contradictory testimonies of witnesses, a lost video and a witness who was not examined in the Court of Appeals violated the fair trial!

Dan v. Democracy of Moldova 10.11.2020 (no. 2) (app. no. 57575/14)
Evidence, contradictory testimonies of witnesses, non-examination of a key witness, compensatory factors in the lack of evidence and a fair trial.
The applicant was acquitted a second time by the the Court in the same case, which concerned his conviction for bribery.
He was sentenced by an irrevocable decision to 5 years in prison for ribery. The ECtHR ruled in its first appeal that his rights to a fair trial had been violated. Following the conviction, the procedure was repeated in the domestic courts.

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Complaints of degrading treatment in prisons must include a detailed and adequate description of the circumstances and events

Melnikov v. Ukraine 22.10.2020 (app. no. 66753/11)
Humiliating treatment and detention conditions. The applicant was convicted of serious offenses (intentional homicide, kidnapping, robbery, theft, etc.) and was sentenced to life imprisonment and 15 years in prison.
He complained about the conditions of his detention in the prisons, stating that the personal space in his cell was 2.5 sq.m. and generally that there was an overcrowding of prisoners. He also complained about the way his sentences were calculated.
The ECtHR ruled that his allegations were vague and unproven. According to the Court, the applicants must provide a detailed and sufficient description of the facts and situations which they complain about regarding prison conditions and which do not have sufficient general objections, as in the present case. It also considered that the applicant had not substantiated his action in the part concerning the calculation of the penalties and the breach of Article 7 of the ECHR.

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The civil liability of an acquitted driver for driving under the influence of alcohol did not violate his presumption of innocence

Ilias Papageorgiou v. Greece 10.12.2020 (app. no. 44101/13)
Presumption of innocence and civil trials. Civil decisions against the applicant despite the fact that he was acquitted in criminal proceedings for the same facts. The applicant was involved in a car accident and his passenger was injured. He took two breathalyzer tests, with scores of 0.67 and 0.57 mg / l, but was later acquitted by the criminal court for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Lawsuit of the passenger against the applicant and his insurance company. The insurance company brought an action against the applicant. The civil court of first instance ordered the applicant and the insurance company to pay compensation to the passenger, but rejected the insurance company’s claim against the applicant. On appeal, the Athens Court of Appeal ruled that it was not bound by the applicant’s acquittal in the criminal courts and that, under the terms of the insurance contract, the applicant’s conduct relieved the insurance company of its liability. The Supreme Court held that Article 6 § 2 of the ECHR did not require the civil courts to be bound by the judgment of the criminal courts and therefore the Court of Appeal had not questioned the presumption of innocence of the applicant.

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Participation of a judge illegally appointed by the Minister of Justice in an appellate court. Violation of the right of access to a court established by law

Guðmundur Andri Ástráðsson v. Iceland 01.12.2020 (app. no. 26374/18)
The case concerned the applicant’s allegation that the new Icelandic Court of Appeal (Landsréttur)
which had upheld his conviction for road traffic offences was not “a tribunal established by law”, on
account of irregularities in the appointment of one of the judges who heard his case.
Given the potential implications of finding a violation and the important interests at stake, the Court
took the view that the right to a “tribunal established by law” should not be construed too broadly
such that any irregularity in a judicial appointment procedure would risk compromising that right.
It thus formulated a three-step test to determine whether irregularities in a judicial appointment
procedure were of such gravity as to entail a violation of the right to a tribunal established by law. It
then proceeded to find as follows.

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Establishment of an extraordinary criminal court for a bank fraud trial with all the legal guarantees provided. Non-violation of the independence and impartiality of the court

Bahaettin Uzan v. Turkey 24.11.2020 (app. no. 30836/07)
The right of every person to be tried by an independent and impartial court operating and established legally.
The applicant was accused of participating in a banking fraud through software resulting in the interception of a large sum of money transferred from the bank to the account of the company in which he was a managing director. The 8th Istanbul Criminal Court was established by law to adjudicate the case. He was sentenced to a fine of 12,314,900,000 euros and 17 years in prison. He complained about the lack of an independent and impartial court.
The Court reiterated that according to Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, “the organization of the judiciary in a democratic society does not depend on the discretion of the executive, but is governed by a law of  the Parliament”.

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Cancellation of a public contract and withholding of the guarantee due to pending prosecution of the applicant. Serious negligence of the competent body and violation of the right to property

Kurban v. Turkey 24.11.2020 (app. no.  75414/10)
Right to property, public procurement and proportionality between the means and the intended purpose.
The applicant participated in a tender for the execution of a construction project in which his bid prevailed and a public contract was signed. He paid a guarantee of 6% on the value of the contract. The contract was canceled because the State was subsequently informed of the existence of a pending criminal prosecution against the applicant relating to public procurement. The guarantee was withheld by law. He filed a complaint for violation of the presumption of innocence and his right to property.

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The violent arrest of a lawyer-protester by police constituted degrading treatment. ECHR violations due to arrests and overnight detention of protesters

Navalnyy and Gunko v. Russia 10.11.2020 (app. no. 75186/12)
Two protesters were arrested in Bolotnaya Square in Russia in May 2012 during a political demonstration against the government. Their overnight detention in a police station and administrative conviction for violating legal police orders.
One of the protesters, Aleksey Navalnyy, a lawyer and political activist, claimed in his application before the ECtHR that a police officer had used excessive force during his arrest. Both protesters also claimed that their arrest and overnight detention was unjustified and arbitrary, that the administrative proceedings against them were unfair, that the dissolution of the demonstration, their arrest and subsequent conviction were disproportionate and that these violations of their rights were intended to undermine the freedom of assembly.

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The Athens Court of Appeals did not take into account a affidavit that had not been submitted in accordance with the Code of Civil Procedure. Non-violation of access to court as its content emerged from the testimony of a witness at the hearing precedures

The applicants in this case considered that the refusal by the court of appeal and the Court of
Cassation to take account of evidence which they considered as decisive for the outcome of the case
had been excessively formalistic. Those courts had considered that the documents in question had
not been presented to the court of appeal in accordance with the requirements of Article 240 of the
Greek Code of Civil Procedure.

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